Stay-at-home parenting with a toddler

Making the decision to stay at home or go back to the workforce after having a child is one many parents grapple with, and it’s rarely an easy choice. Those who opt to return to work often feel they are missing out on many firsts, but may also find it comforting to be in the company of other adults. For parents who stay at home, there is the benefit of spending each day with their child, but it can also feel isolating and lonely at times.

Stay-at-home parenting means being on-call 24/7, with no lunch breaks or punching out at the end of the day – it’s literally an around the clock job.

Given the high demands of the tiny boss, it’s no wonder many stay-at-home parents feel burnt out at the end of the day (and sometimes just by the end of the morning). Here are some tips on getting through the day with less stress while still maximizing your time with Baby.

  • Accept the mess: Taking care of a toddler is downright messy. There will be toys on the floor, there might be marker on the walls, and the occasional potty accident is impossible to avoid. While it certainly feels nice to have the house in order, the reality is that your home probably won’t resemble a Pottery Barn catalog in these early years. Setting aside a specific time to commit to cleaning can be helpful, but don’t stress about picking up each and every toy throughout the day.
  • Keep it scheduled: One great thing about staying at home is that you get to make your own schedule, and schedules are important for toddlers. As often as possible, stick with your routine, and help Baby become familiar with your daily rituals. When she knows what to expect from her day, it lets her physical clock for sleep, hunger, and energy levels to stay regular. This can help limit tantrums when it comes time to transition, which is often difficult for toddlers, and will also help her become accustomed to following instructions.
  • Take some time for yourself: Naptime doesn’t have to mean the time when you buzz around the house with a mop and a rag, or prep meals for the week. Of course, there are always going to be things that need to be done, but don’t put your emotional well-being on the backburner. If your body is telling you to relax, listen. There is no harm in sitting down with a book or catching up with your favorite show when you need a break.
  • Do what makes you happy: You’ve spent all week enriching this little person’s life, so be sure to do the same for yourself. See your friends, go to a movie, or head outdoors for some exercise. Do this as often as is feasible. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so be sure you’re remembering to replenish what you’ve given emotionally throughout the day to avoid feeling tapped out.
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